The Book of Job is taken by some Protestants to be an historical document, whereas others hold that its position in the Ketuvim (the Writings) never assumed that it was anything other than what we would call fiction today.

So, what is the position of the Catholic Church in regards to the historicity of Job? Is it a play or a recount of a real event?

1 Answer 1


I don't know if Chesterton speaks for the whole Church, but he says:

The doctors disagree, as it is the business of doctors to do;

but more to the reality of Job's construction:

The Book of Job may have grown gradually just as Westminster Abbey grew gradually. But the people who made the old folk poetry, like the people who made Westminster Abbey, did not attach that importance to the actual date and the actual author, that importance which is entirely the creation of the almost insane individualism of modern times.

So, maybe the question, as pertinent as it is to hermenueiticians isn't so important to those who actually want to gain wisdom by reading Job. Still, the New American Bible (aka the Book we use at Mass) is a little clearer. In the the introduction to Job it says:

This is a literary composition, and not a transcript of historical events and conversations.

which isn't to say it doesn't have any "historicity" because it tells us exactly what people thought about the reasons bad things happened to good people.

And in any event, the way the Bible is organized, Job is between Maccabees and Psalms. It is the beginning of Wisdom. (or at least the end of it is) It's not even in the same category as say, Tobit, which I'm pretty sure lots of the doctors would contend is a folk tale as well.

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